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    I Walked In A Runway Show As A Non-Model And All My Top Model Dreams Came True

    But seriously: Walking on the balls of your feet is not for wimps.

    by ,
    Macey J. Foronda / Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    Hi, I'm Kristin. Like most people, I am not a model.

    Admittedly, I was one of those kids who thought they could grow up to become a model, and as they got older realized that they, uh...didn't look right. In every sense of the word.

    I'm plus-size, but even more importantly, I'm not the right TYPE of plus-size: My body is apple-shaped, my face isn't symmetrical, I'm 5'3''. So I generally don't see a lot of models who look like me.

    I wondered — could someone like me actually walk in a fashion runway show? And so when I was given the opportunity to walk in Torrid’s winter 2016 fashion show, I jumped at the chance:

    View this video on YouTube

    And here's how it went!

    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    First, I needed to be fitted for the clothes I'd be wearing in the show. I met with Torrid's fashion director, Rachel Braband, and Torrid stylist Ami Jenner, who had put together 25 looks for 12 models.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    I counted two outfits per model, so I asked where the 25th outfit was coming from. It turned out that I was to have three outfits…and I would be closing the runway show. Closing a runway show is an important job, and on my resume under special skills, it lists french fries, so this seemed like a lot of pressure.

    I tried each of my three outfits on, and the show's stylists IMMEDIATELY descended on me with adjustments and accessories, like a swarm of very type-A locusts:

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    They talked to each other in rapid fire while straightening my cuffs and tucking in my shirts. I felt sort of like a Barbie doll with some very discerning owners, who not only knew exactly what they wanted, but were able to accurately predict how good their choices would look on me. I would not have picked these outfits out on my own, but they were awesome — and in that moment I honestly could not imagine putting my body on display in clothes I did not like, which is something professional models do all the time.

    By an amazing stroke of luck, only one of my three outfits needed alterations, but I would need to wear a push-up bra to fill out my proportions up top.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    As soon as I got out my clothes, they started the alterations right away, like right there in the room.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    Everything about the fitting moved SO fast — the entire process of trying on the outfits and getting notes and adjustments for me probably took only 20 minutes, and a lot of that was just me in the changing room trying to figure out how arm holes work.

    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    Before the show, the other 11 models and I practiced walking on the runway, which is a bit like taking a very sexy field sobriety test.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    You know someone is doing this right when you look at them and think WHERE CAN I BUY YOUR OUTFIT. Professional models are all very good at making people feel this way. I was literally standing in the headquarters of the store where everyone's outfits are from and I still wanted to know where they got them.

    I got some tips from Torrid's brand ambassador Georgina Burke. Like when you first walk onto the runway, you're supposed to strike a pose, à la: "Oh, sorry, I didn't notice all you people there because I'm very hot."

    Macey J. Foronda/BuzzFeed

    Also, I was going to be doing this in INCREDIBLY tall shoes, so my calves looked like they had been sneaking out at night while I was asleep to do CrossFit.

    Then, she told me walk as fiercely as I could, which is very hard when your entire weight is currently being balanced on the balls of your feet.


    HOLY CRAP the runway felt so long, it felt like actual airplane runway length. Georgina told me that I have "a very fierce walk." It feels more to me like the walk of someone who is coming to give you a detention.

    Not walking off the end of the runway is very hard because you can't look at your feet.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    Plus, there are a TON of lights in your face, so you sort of just have to guess where the runway ends and then halt your very fierce walk into a pose.

    The funny thing is everyone remembers your ~walk~ and no one remembers you ~turning around on the runway~, which is a shame, because messing up the turns are more likely to make you seem like a drunk ostrich who is inexplicably very good at accessorizing.

    I had to work on not swinging my arms too much, and not making a face like I was walking to a tax audit.


    With all the choreographed turns and the concentrating and the lights and the shoes that are so high that they are basically giving you a wedgie, you have to remember that you face needs to seem RELAXED AND COOL AND ENERGIZED but also that you're too cool for all this and maybe might just leave to get a juice.

    Some people do it naturally, but on me it feels and looks strange, and I start to wish that I had longer legs.

    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    About four hours before the show, everybody went into hair and makeup!

    This might seem like a long time, but there were three hair and makeup teams for 12 models, so it's actually kind of impressive it only took each team about an hour per girl.

    The backstage area where everyone was getting their hair and makeup done was MUCH less chaotic than I was expecting.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    I suspect this probably varies to a great degree — if the designers running the show are stressed, then everyone else is stressed. But the tone being set backstage at this show was calm, and so even though everyone's nerves were humming pretty loudly, there was an unspoken rule of No Freakouts.

    As a model, you don't get to control your hair and your makeup, which means you may end up with styling you don't like.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    This may seem obvious, but you are there to be a vessel for the vision of the show, and part of being a professional is to be OK with your body being styled in ways that you would normally dismiss as unattractive.

    And when they told me that my hair was going to be in a ponytail, I had a minor freakout.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    I partially use my hair to frame, hide, and generally distract from my face, so the idea that someone would tie my hair away from my face made no sense. But it forced me to reconsider my face and hair from the perspective of other people. What if the styles I normally use to make me the most attractive are actually just crutches I use to feel better about myself?

    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    When it was time to get my makeup done, they lowered the second bomb: I would be walking the runway without my glasses.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    I am a glasses person. I don't just wear them because they're something I need to help see — to me, they're essential to the structure of my entire face. In my opinion, when you take off my glasses, my face looks like one of those globes with the 3D mountains.

    Again, I'm not in control here, and so I have to learn to let go and be OK with being a canvas.

    For my makeup, I was given a smoky eye and a nude lip — another tough thing for me, because I'm very self-conscious about the size of my mouth.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    But I'm also self-conscious about the size of my eyes, so at some point you have to just let people see your damn face and know that they aren't going to throw tomatoes at you if you do.

    Also, my makeup is so beautifully done, it's actually a little easier for me to see how this all fits into the vision.

    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    About 45 minutes before the show, I got dressed in my first outfit, and I felt like an updated Daria.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    The only issue with this outfit was that if I spun around too fast, everyone could see my underwear, which I'm sure was very fun for the 100-plus audience members with prime upskirt views, LOL.

    During the show, I would change into my second and third outfits, respectively.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    For the second outfit, I was supposed to open the jacket when I got to the end of the runway so I could show the plaid lining and the words on the shirt. I assumed my boobs would do the rest of the work from there.

    The third outfit was a velvet dress and capelet, which was resting on my shoulders, so my primary objective with this outfit was to make sure the capelet did not fall off.

    I love all these outfits, but it was hard to look at myself wearing them without the safety of my hair and my glasses, and I worried about the proportions of my head to my body. So while I KNEW logically that this was how I looked in these outfits...

    I felt like I looked like this:

    Buena Vista Pictures

    Also, once we were all dressed for the runway show, we were no longer allowed to sit, unless we had butts that were also programmable steam irons.

    This can be a problem if you happen to have very tall shoes and a set of calves threatening to annex themselves away from your body — I did a lot of cool leaning against doorways waiting for the show to start.

    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    I was not prepared for this. Not even a little bit.


    Walking in a runway show is hard. Walking in a runway show when you're dressed and styled differently from normal is like coal-walking to the DMV. Because it's loud and hot and everyone is looking at you and I actually asked someone nearby if I could just go home maybe and skip this entire thing.

    Right before you go on, you're supposed to listen to the music playing and hear the beats so you can make. sure. you. walk. on. the. right. beats.

    When I stepped out onto the runway in my first outfit, I was literally fighting back tears.


    Seriously, every time I took a step, it was like, HOW IS THERE STILL MORE RUNWAY? Is this a fucking treadmill?! And while I was walking, the beat of the music in my head was honestly just DON'T. CRY. DON'T. CRY. DON'T. CRY. I was so focused on not crying, I blacked out and forgot EVERYTHING ELSE I had learned.

    If you wear more than one outfit in a runway show, someone is assigned to help you get changed backstage between outfits.


    The idea of having a "dresser" seems ridiculous until you can’t find them — and then you realize your dresser is the love of your life. Because backstage it's hot, you're nervous, and a group of people just spent an hour and a half doing your hair, so there's no point in buckling your own shoes.

    By my second outfit, I was much feeling less like I wanted to throw myself into a volcano where fashion could never find me again.

    Macey J. Foronda/BuzzFeed

    For our second outfit, we were encouraged to do a "fun" walk where we danced and showed our personalities. My personality was "A Person No Longer in Danger of Sneaking Out the Back Door," which was an upgrade from before.

    In fact, I felt brave enough to do a little impromptu turn in the middle of the walk back, which people fucking LOVED for reasons I don't quite understand.


    People LOVE it when you do things on the runway. I think because the expectation is that you are just supposed to walk, if you throw in any additional movements, they are like, "WHOA you can turn in circles, too?!"

    One more outfit change, and then I closed the show, which for a professional model would be a Very. Big. Deal.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    Being able to "open" a show (be the first model) and "close" a show (being the last) are very tough jobs — you are giving the audience their first and last perspective of the collection you are modeling, so it's important to nail it.

    So it's unfortunate that, when I tried to do a spin at the end of the runway, I realized I needed to keep my capelet from falling off, and ended up just grabbing my boobs in 360 degrees.


    But like, also: See that awesome girl smiling in the lower left-hand corner? She's probably not thinking about that.

    After I walked the last outfit, I did one more lap and led everyone out so people could see all the looks at once. Unforch, all these girls had super long legs, so I was pretty much just run-walking.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    Here I am, trying to appear relaxed and happy while I am speed-walking like I have never speed-walked before. Then we all danced and clapped and people in the audience clapped and I tried not to cry again, and then when I got off the runway I promptly failed and cried again.

    And holy crap, the whole thing only lasted 10 minutes. TEN MINUTES. It felt like three Olympics had happened in that time.

    Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

    So would I do this again? Yes — if more brands used people who look like me.

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

    To be clear, being a model is a serious profession and runway walking is DEFINITELY a skill — it requires practice, patience, attention to detail (don't have resting murderer face), and the ability to not say you're "just going to Starbucks" but then run away and never come back.

    But many of the people actually buying clothes are people who look like non-model, average humans. So I don't know if it would be the worst thing in the world to sometimes have non-model humans show us what our clothes will look like when we buy them. Because despite how terrified I was, I also felt glamorous and powerful, like St. Kristin, Our Lady of Pleather Miniskirts. And if more of us are modeling clothes, it just might change the way we view various body types and make us less likely to think we look ridiculous — and more just that we look different.

    For more BuzzFeed Kristin, like her Facebook page!